Photographs of the Ordinary, By the Ordinary

Volume 4, Tattered and Lost: Cakes, Picnics, and Watermelon 

Bins of old photographs are easily found at thrift stores and antique shops. I seem to remember one such bin of yellowed images at a Chico antique shop (I forget the exact store) with a sign that read “Instant Relatives – 4/$1.” I love looking through such things; interpreting the stories and feelings within the eyes of the photographed. What was happening here, what were these folks up to, what was their story — and why are these pictures here in this basket and not claimed by a family member?

Talk about a marginalized group—who speaks for the lost photographs? Who is here to lend a voice to millions of frozen moments in time that are sitting silenced in boxes, under beds, or in attics?

Such a Medium does exist and her name is Tattered and Lost.

I’ll let the author explain with words from her site:

Tattered and Lost is the online identity of one collector of vernacular photography, found photos, vintage snapshots, ephemera, or whatever else you prefer to call them. At the website Tattered and Lost Photographs she shares some of the images she’s found at flea markets, antique stores, and estate sales. Seeing the world from a quirky point of view helps her to make sense of some of the odd images she finds. 

Collecting vintage photographs starts out innocent enough with a few snapshots here and there, but at some point it becomes a bit more obsessive and you find yourself longing for the next image that makes you laugh or ponder the irrefutable confusion of being human. This book, Tattered and Lost: Cakes, Picnics, and Watermelon, the fourth in a series, shows the quirky world of sharing food from the 1890s to the 1970s in the United States. Sit back and enjoy watching people cut cakes (some people do it with such style!), go on picnics without your relatives, and watch people eat watermelon. Yes, eat watermelon. An odd category for sure, but one sure to make you smile. 

I was given Volume 4, Tattered and Lost: Cakes, Picnics, and Watermelon as a Christmas gift, and it is incredible. If you enjoy an anthropological journey of the silly, and at times, hollow sadness, please visit where you can also order the books and be captivated by persons, many long since passed on, staring back at you—simply living life amongst the pages.

We owe it to them.

Never forget.

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